I started my new job this week. Before you ask: yes, I am still working at Kate Spade. I’m doing both.
Retail and food were two industries I never thought I’d be involved in because I’m not really a “people person.” I put on a good show, but I am very often wishing everyone would just LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY.
The real problem is that people give me anxiety, especially when there is a crowd of them or they expect something from me.
For a long time, that just wasn’t something I talked about. But in each of my jobs, I have had a moment where I had no choice, where the anxiety was so overwhelming that I couldn’t hide it.
The first was at Kate, where I paused in the back room to catch my breath. The new manager asked if I was all right and, when I couldn’t answer yes, asked what was wrong. “I just have a lot of anxiety,” I told her. She understood – dealt with it as well, in fact – and suggested ways she had learned to cope with hers during her years in retail. A different day, when I was feeling overwhelmed to the point of tears, she gave me a job that was useful but would give me time to calm myself down.
At Amelie’s (that’s the new place), I mentioned it to two people. The first, my trainer, suggested an herbal tea we served that was good for anxiety. It worked too, and soothed my nerves wonderfully. The second, a guy who was also new but had previously worked at Starbucks and Panera, told me he also had anxiety and that, when things were too overwhelming, he told his boss and just took a break.
Through talking about my anxiety, I found others who could relate to my struggle and had overcome it. I also found ways to make it better, through following their advice and alleviating the stress of needing to hide it. The worst thing mental illness does is trick you into believing you’re alone – and you’re not. We hear it so much it becomes a platitude, but it’s the truth.